GeneralHr Library

Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist

Source | LinkedIn : By Ramesh Srinivasan

“It is 100 days since I took over as CEO here, and my first review with the Board is due next week. I have not done anything that is worth reporting. I thought I will hit the ground running. They have not yet accepted me. I am seen as an outsider by the Senior Managers. I had researched this company…this job was a great fit for me…I knew exactly what to expect… As CEO, I have a lot to give….if only they let me…”

Whenever given or handed a chance to do/start/join something new, executives and managers will do well to remember the distinction between a tourist and a traveler. American historian Daniel J. Boorstin distinguishes clearly: “The traveler was active. He went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing’”. You can see that the trait of ‘entitlement’ is common between the CEO and a tourist.

Maps and memories make a traveler wiser, while tourists accumulate pictures and souvenirs.

The CEO was gung-ho while showing me his presence at company events, and the significant emails he has sent/received during the 100 days.

Watch yourself the next time you get on to doing something new at home, or at work. Also watch new comers and their attitudes – are they tourists, who start off as observers, stick out as outsiders, quick to complain, prefer to stay oblivious, keen to show quick results, and want to display ‘souvenirs’ in the form of knowledge, new friends or opinions.

Or, can you be a traveler who experiences, blends in, is curious all the time, sensitive to the new culture, and only has personal goals to chase.

This detachment is divine and supreme, as immortalized by Gulzar in that song from Parichay (1972): “Na ghar hai, na thikaana; mujhe chalte jaana hai, bas chalte jaana” (Neither a home nor destination; I simply need to keep going). In today’s parlance: “Just Chill!” or, more mildly, “this too shall pass.”

All stress is born out of having to show results and make an impression. Every brochure, every website detail and shared experiences by earlier tourists is taken as a promise. When not fulfilled, there is anger and disappointment. Like this couple who went berserk at a Gir resort because they did not get to see a single Asiatic lion during their four days’ stay. Every new job/assignment is taken by executives as a reward, rather than a responsibility. Like tourists, in order to succeed, we crave for predictability. A traveler is an inveterate rebel, with a “heightened state of awareness,..mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed” (Pico Iyer). Isn’t this what you would rather be?

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